Teagasc agronomist John Pettit has confirmed the emergence of yellow rust in the wheat varieties Garrus and KWS Lili in the Co. Wexford area.

“This is the first time that I have seen the disease as prevalent in crops. Teagasc colleagues in Cork and Kildare are reporting similar developments.

“Yellow rust is a real yield grabber. Crops of Garrus and Lili are particularly prone to the disease,” he explained.

The tell-tale signs of yellow rust are the development of pale circles within crops. Affected crops should be sprayed with a suitable fungicide product as soon as possible.

Pettit said that most winter-sown combinable crops are demonstrating significant yield potential at the present time.

“There is a lot of latent septoria in wheat crops. But this can be effectively dealt with by a suitable, well-timed fungicide spray programme,” he said.

The Wexford-based agronomist confirmed that winter barley crops are looking tremendously well.

“Most crops have tiller numbers in excess of 1100/m2. Last year, at this time, the majority of crops would have been struggling to meet their target density.

“All barley crops should have received their full fertiliser application at this stage. T1 fungicide sprays should also have been applied by now,” he added.

“Barley crops have tremendous yield potential this year. The actual performance achieved will depend on the variety, land quality, disease pressure and solar radiation levels during the grain-fill period.”

What a difference a year makes is an adage that also holds for winter rape crops in 2017.

“Crops came out of the winter last year in pretty poor shape,” said Pettit. “Pigeon grazing had caused a lot of damage – with the result that many crops struggled to meet their target Green Area Index (GAI) of 3.5.

“This year, an entirely different scenario is unfolding. Rape crops have met their GAI targets with ease. In many cases, growers have secured this objective on the back of applying as little as 80 units of nitrogen per acre. This is well below what would normally be expected; thereby resulting in significant cost savings.

“Crops are currently flowering, with petals falling off in many areas. Fields should, therefore, be sprayed in the near future with a suitable fungicide to prevent the onset of sclerotonia,” he cautioned.